Heroic actor of the week (2/24): Matt Ryan

In this week’s edition of Heroic Actor of The Week, we take a look at how Matt Ryan made us all feel John Constantine’s pain in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

It’s a strange time for the comic book landscape. It still doesn’t feel right that Arrow is no longer on the air, while MCU stalwart Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is also coming to an end later this year. Yes, it feels odd.

In spite of that uncertainty, there is one thing you can rely on to bring a smile to your face, and that’s DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – ironic for a show that thrives on its unpredictability.

This week’s installment was as brilliantly baffling as ever as the Legends attempted to stop Genghis Khan from ruling over Hong Kong in 1997 with an army of… scooters. But it was the show’s more serious narrative that really struck a chord with us, and in doing so, it delivered the best performance across comic book TV this week.

Matt Ryan – DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Having portrayed John Constantine for over over half a decade, Matt Ryan knows something about bringing the revered Master of the Dark Arts to life.

We’ve seen him do so on the brilliant-but-short-lived Constantine TV series, we’ve seen him do so on an episode of Arrow, we’ve heard him do so in animated films Justice League Dark and Constantine: City of Demons and now we once again get a regular chance to see him do so on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

The truth is that Ryan isn’t just great at what he does, he’s the living, breathing embodiment of the John Constantine character. Never has there been a better representation of the broody, foul-mouthed demon hunter (sorry Keanu Reeves) and there probably never will be.

While the veteran performer was on top form covering all of those usual Constantine grounds in the most recent episode of Legends, what made this particular performance that much more perfect was how he used that almost-arrogant moodiness and anger to authentically bring John’s fears to life.

It was hard not to feel sorry for the Warlock as he pushed close friends Ray Palmer and Gary Green away in his final few hours instead of enjoying their company, covering up the fear and resentment for his imminent death with faux anger towards the two people he cared about. A cracker of a performance from Ryan reinforced that, making viewers want to throttle John for his spiteful actions.

But this only set the stage for the actor to show us a completely different side to the dying Constantine’s personality, as his ultimate apology and emotional farewell with his friends proved to be a genuinely heartwarming moment… even though he did manage to outwit death in the end.

A captivating performance that showcased the conflicting emotions of a dying man, Matt Ryan delivered what may have been his finest performance yet, reminding us that Legends of Tomorrow is all the better for having him as John Constantine.

Nice one, mate!

Next: 25 most heartbreaking Arrowverse deaths of all-time

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns to The CW on Tuesday, Mar 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Come back next Sunday to find out who the next Heroic Actor of The Week will be. You can also check out previous winners here.